Why Is Nik Wallenda Wearing a Gas Mask for His Volcano Walk?

nik wallenda volcano harness

Instagran/@NikWallenda Nik Wallenda

Nik Wallenda is walking over a Nicaraguan volcano live on ABC tonight, March 4, 2020 at 8 p.m. EST. During the walk, he’ll be wearing either a gas mask or an oxygen mask, depending on the types of fumes being emitted by the volcano at the time of the stunt. The fumes are often poisonous.

In most cases, the seventh-generation aerialist does not wear assistive equipment during his performances; however, some precautions are being taken for his walk over the volcano. The gases over the volcano are highly variable, so he won’t know which mask he’ll have to wear until closer to the time of the walk.

Wallenda has been looking for a volcano to walk for quite some time, he told Niagara Frontiere Publications. He first went public with the idea in 2014 or 2015, and researched and studied, searching for the perfect place to walk. Even up until a few weeks ago, Wallenda was still studying and learning more about volcanos.

“You know, it’s ever-changing, and it’s Mother Nature and it’s unpredictable – as I’ve learned over Niagara Falls and, of course, the Grand Canyon,” he said. “They always come with their own challenges, and this one is just kind of the next chapter in my life of doing just that.”


Wallenda Trained With an Oxygen-Deprivation Mask

While training for the live walk, Wallenda tries to recreate the elements and challenges in his own backyard. That means he’s been training with an oxygen-deprivation mask as well as a harness and the balancing pole that he’ll be using.

He also trained with a wind-machine, as he did before walking over Niagara Falls. For the volcano walk, he trained with a gas mask on, with goggles on, and with his eyes closed all in a smoky room on top of the usual training he completes.

He told the Associated Press that the cables can’t go up early because the sulfuric gasses in the air would eat through the cable to the point that the cable would crumble.


Whether He Wears the Oxygen Tank Will be a Last-Minute Decision

Though wearing either an oxygen tank or gas mask is non-negotiable, Wallenda does have one last-minute decision to make when it comes to which of the masks he’s going to wear. The actual walk will last around half an hour, depending on the elements at the time.

Wallenda told The Wrap that the decision will be based on whether they decide he truly needs the oxygen tank or not. “And if I do, do I run out of oxygen cause it’s the smallest tank we could find that will potentially last 35 minutes? […] let’s say, God forbid something happened, then how long is my oxygen in the tank gonna last? Even if I’m holding on for help, I could run out of oxygen.”

He said the danger is real, and the walk tonight is the most real thing he’s done as far as the risk and danger involved.

READ NEXT: WATCH: Nik Wallenda Walks Between Chicago Skyscrapers


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